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Persona 3 FES: The Answer

Persona 3 FES: Aigis
(Image source: Atlus.)

“What gives you life? What makes you realize you’re alive?”

Those are the questions The Answer, Persona 3 FES‘s bonus chapter, purportedly addresses. However, after sinking 30-plus hours into the add-on, gamers will be inclined to suggest “How do we entice fans of the original P3 to buy P3F and then proceed to alienate them?” as a reasonable alternate.

The story takes place a month after the ending of P3F: The Journey and centres on Aigis, the Shadow-killing machine who would be alive. She has lost much of her will to live after losing her main reason for living, and discovering the what and the how of her salvation will be the main draw for P3F fans. Unfortunately, that involves only a few minutes of exposition shoehorned into an unpleasant game experience.

Far from being an enjoyable reunion with the SEES gang, The Answer will actually get you incredibly annoyed with each and every one of them. Characters make 180° turns then make another 180° turn shortly afterward merely to satisfy terrible game scenarios with stupid game designer tricks. A character with 400HP suddenly and inexplicably morphs into an opponent with 2000HP with hitherto unimagined powers then reverts to her 400HP self merely to satisfy the game designers’ whims. It’s ill-conceived and poorly executed decisions like this that make The Answer unpleasant.

In gameplay terms, The Answer is a pure dungeon-crawler as the high school sim aspect of The Journey has been eliminated completely.

Also omitted are the crutches that made The Journey a relatively painless experience. The exclusion of Social Links, the Persona Compendium and Weapon Fusion complicate attempts to craft superpowerful game-imbalancing Personae. It is still possible to craft a versatile Persona with no weaknesses — and a few boss battles will hinge upon that — but it will require more time, luck and grinding than in The Journey.

In battle, The Answer is much more difficult compared to The Journey. The HP-heavy foes in The Answer often have a long list of immunities and are usually paired with partners that complement their skills. Players will need to be a whole lot more thoughtful in battle. This is a good thing.

The boss battles in The Answer are also considerably more difficult than those in The Journey with the frustration level commensurably higher. Players might need to backtrack to level up their characters as well as gain critically useful items and weapons because some foes are otherwise unbeatable. This is all the more annoying because characters have had their levels reset to fairly low levels and have no access to the equipment they acquired during The Journey.

The finale drags on for much too long with needless clarification of events in The Journey, needless boss battles and a final boss that appears out of nowhere.

Despite its plodding pace, P3F: The Journey was a good game with some great ideas and a memorable ending. The Answer is very much an unnecessary add-on that actually diminishes the value of the original with awful storytelling decisions. It’s the game equivalent of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 2: E.T. Strikes Back. Directed by Michael Bay.

In short, not every question needs an answer.

Posted in Games, Persona 3, PS2.

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